Sen. Jim Halligan said he and other state lawmakers will have to act to comply with a provision that states establish a health insurance exchange that was part of the Affordable Care Act the U.S. Supreme Court upheld Thursday.
“It’s the law of the land, so now as a state we’ll have to put together a health insurance exchange so we can comply with the law,” the Stillwater Republican said Friday.
Oklahoma was close to creating its own insurance exchange in 2009 prior to passage of the federal health care law, but money dried up as well as support. The Oklahoma Legislature opted to wait on creating an exchange until the court ruled on the law’s constitutionality.
“We had given a lot of thought to that during the last session, and then because most people thought it was going to be declared unconstitutional, we didn’t act,” Halligan said. “Now we will need to get together when we come back into session and try to be responsive to the law.”
Under the law, the state health insurance exchange is to be operational in 2014. The Department of Health and Human Services also has a Jan. 1, 2013, deadline to certify states’ health insurance exchange plans will be operational in time for 2014. The department also must receive a state’s proposal to establish a state-run exchange by Nov. 16, which is 30 business days before the Jan. 1 deadline. If a state does not create a state-run option, the law allows the federal government to create an insurance exchange in that state.
On Friday, U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius said the federal government will have more grant money available to help states create an exchange.
“The federal government and our state partners are moving forward to implement the health care law,” Sebelius said in a release. “This new funding opportunity will give states the resources they need to establish affordable insurance exchanges and ensure Americans are no longer on their own when shopping for insurance.”
Oklahoma previously turned down more than $54 million in available federal grant money to help pay for the exchange program. According to the release, there would be 10 additional opportunities for states to apply for financial aid to create a health insurance exchange.